Brady was one of the Invincibles – a Fenian splinter group – that murdered the Chief Secretary of Ireland on his first day in the country. Four others were executed for the murders.
Brady by all accounts was a mountain of a man. The Times wrote after his execution. “He was brought up as a stonemason of herculean strength, his occupation developing the muscular power of his arms, which told with such terrible effect when he drove the knives into the bodies of Lord Cavendish and his secretary T. H. Burke.”
Brady was a Member of the Irish National Invincibles. The Irish National Invincibles was a secret society formed in 1881. Their aim was to remove the country of Ireland of tyrants. They targeted Thomas Henry Burke, permanent under-secretary, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin on 6 May 1882. With Burke at the time was the British chief secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish. Both men were knifed to death. Five men were hanged by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol near Dublin in May and June of 1883 for the killings. They were: Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly. The principle witness was the informer James Carey, who was given passage to South Africa but was shot on board ship by Patrick O’Donnell. O’Donnell was brought back to England and hanged in December 1883. Kilmainham Gaol contains the graves of the Invincibles convicted and executed for the Phoenix park stabbings. They were: Joe Brady, hanged Monday, 14 May 1883. Daniel Curley, 18 May 1883. Tim Kelly (19 years of age) 9 June 1883. Thomas Caffrey, 2 June 1883, and Michael Fagan, 28 May 1883. See also the grave of the Invincible James “Skin the Goat” Fitzharris, who is buried in Glasnevin cemetery.
In Episode Seven of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus and other characters discuss the murders in the offices of the Freeman newspaper. In Episode Sixteen Bloom and Daedalus stop in a cabman’s shelter run by a man they believe to be James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris.
The Invincibles and Carey are mentioned in the folk song “Monto (Take Her Up To Monto)”:
When Carey told on Skin-the-goat
O’Donnell caught him on the boat
He wished he’d never been afloat, the dirty skite
It wasn’t very sensible
To tell on the Invincibles
They stood up for their principles, day and night